Earlier today at a "townterview" in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, before an audience of students and young professionals, secretary of State Hillary Clinton had fielded a number of bland, boring questions about Kyrgyzstani issues when the moderator decided to sex things up a bit by asking a few things that would "touch some personality of Hillary Clinton." It started out fine. No, Chelsea doesn't have any political ambitions, Clinton said. No, she wasn't afraid to come to Bishkek, despite the recent explosion. Then it got awkward.
MODERATOR 1: Okay. Which designers do you prefer?
SECRETARY CLINTON: What designers of clothes?
MODERATOR 1: Yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Would you ever ask a man that question? (Laughter.) (Applause.)
MODERATOR 1: Probably not. Probably not. (Applause.)
"Eh, that's not that awkward," you may be saying to yourself. "A little embarrassing for the moderator, but I've seen worse." But consider that just literally moments before, Clinton had advised a young female lawyer about succeeding in a world of sexist attitudes.
"It requires, for a woman, usually in today's world still, an extra amount of effort because I think it's - the fact that women are still sometimes judged more critically. If you are in the courtroom or you are presenting a case, it still is a fact - and this is not just in Kyrgyzstan, this is everywhere - that when a man walks into a courtroom it's rare for someone to say, "Oh, look what he is wearing." (Laughter.) But if you walk into a courtroom, or any young woman walks into a courtroom, people are going to notice. And that will be an additional requirement that you have to meet."
Had the moderator just zoned out during this answer? Was he too wedded to his (we think it was a he, although the transcript is unclear) prepared questions? Or did he just not realize how extra horrible his question would sound coming right after Clinton's remarks about sexism?
It probably doesn't matter, Kyrgyzstan. Clinton's heard it all before. If you happen to see a big drop-off in American aid this year, it's probably not related to this incident at all.
Townterview Hosted by KTR [State Dept.]